December 17, 2015 / 6:03 PM / 3 years ago

State lender says doesn't rule out investing in Telecom Italia

People walk past a Telecom Italia phone booth in Rome August 28, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi

ROME (Reuters) - Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti does not rule out investing in Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) if talks between the latter and CDP-controlled firm Metroweb over joining forces to build an ultrafast nationwide fiber optic network succeeds, its chairman said.

Metroweb, a small fiber optic company controlled by infrastructure fund F2i and CDP, has long been seen as the corporate vehicle for realizing the Italian government’s multi-billion-euro plan for the nationwide fiber network.

The plan has initially stalled due to difficulties in bringing the former monopoly network operator Telecom Italia on board, but talks between the two companies have picked up again in recent weeks.

CDP Chairman Claudio Costamagna said on Thursday that Telecom Italia and Metroweb were in talks on bringing the ultrafast network to 250 Italian towns and should the project succeed, it could lead to “moves on shareholder structure”.

Costamagna declined to clarify whether this meant CDP taking a stake in Telecom Italia.

“I am used to acting first and then talking about what I have done,” he told reporters during a presentation of the lender’s new business plan.

Telecom Italia has attracting the interest of various foreign investors this year, led by French media group Vivendi (VIV.PA) with a 20.5 percent stake, while French telecoms entrepreneur Xavier Niel has acquired call options on shares relating to just over 15 percent.

This week Vivendi cemented its interest in the Italian company by winning a vote to appoint four representatives to its board, giving it a direct say over its strategy.

Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Writing by Francesca Landini; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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